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Free riding in voluntary environmental programs: The case of the U.S. EPA WasteWise program


  • Magali Delmas


  • Arturo Keller



Voluntary Environmental Programs (VPs) involving industry and regulatory agencies have emerged as the promise of the future in environmental policy circles. Although the number of these agreements is increasing in OECD countries, there are still concerns about their effectiveness; in particular that “free-ridingâ€\x9D behavior may be difficult to avoid within VPs. Free riding occurs when one firm benefits from the actions of another without sharing the costs. Free-riding behavior may undermine the credibility of VPs and therefore their viability. Our paper focuses on understanding the factors that favor or hamper free-riding behavior in VPs. Our analysis is based on the case of the WasteWise program that was established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce municipal solid waste. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Suggested Citation

  • Magali Delmas & Arturo Keller, 2005. "Free riding in voluntary environmental programs: The case of the U.S. EPA WasteWise program," Policy Sciences, Springer;Society of Policy Sciences, vol. 38(2), pages 91-106, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:policy:v:38:y:2005:i:2:p:91-106
    DOI: 10.1007/s11077-005-6592-8

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Scotchmer, Suzanne & Slemrod, Joel, 1989. "Randomness in tax enforcement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 17-32, February.
    2. L. Wade, 1988. "Review," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 58(1), pages 99-100, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rinaldo Brau & Carlo Carraro, 2011. "The design of voluntary agreements in oligopolistic markets," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 111-142, April.
    2. Darnall, Nicole & Seol, Inshik & Sarkis, Joseph, 2009. "Perceived stakeholder influences and organizations' use of environmental audits," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 170-187, February.
    3. Mary Gugerty, 2009. "Signaling virtue: voluntary accountability programs among nonprofit organizations," Policy Sciences, Springer;Society of Policy Sciences, vol. 42(3), pages 243-273, August.
    4. Kalim Shah & Jorge Rivera, 2013. "Do industry associations influence corporate environmentalism in developing countries? Evidence from Trinidad and Tobago," Policy Sciences, Springer;Society of Policy Sciences, vol. 46(1), pages 39-62, March.
    5. Na Li Dawson & Kathleen Segerson, 2008. "Voluntary Agreements with Industries: Participation Incentives with Industry-Wide Targets," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 84(1), pages 97-114.
    6. Berrone, Pascual & Gelabert, Liliana & Fosfuri, Andrea, 2009. "The impact of symbolic and substantive actions on environmental legitimacy," IESE Research Papers D/778, IESE Business School.
    7. Kirchgässner, Gebhard, 2014. "Zu neueren Entwicklungen bei der Einbeziehung privater Akteure in Prozesse der öffentlichen Verwaltung: Einige Bemerkungen," Economics Working Paper Series 1413, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science, revised Dec 2014.
    8. van't Veld, Klaas & Kotchen, Matthew J., 2011. "Green clubs," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 309-322.
    9. Andreas Ferrara and Ian Lange, 2014. "Voluntary Programs to Encourage Diffusion: The Case of the Combined Heat-and-Power Partnership," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1).
    10. Liu, Zugang (Leo) & Anderson, Trisha D. & Cruz, Jose M., 2012. "Consumer environmental awareness and competition in two-stage supply chains," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 218(3), pages 602-613.
    11. Arimura, Toshi H. & Darnall, Nicole & Katayama, Hajime, 2011. "Is ISO 14001 a gateway to more advanced voluntary action? The case of green supply chain management," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 170-182, March.
    12. Kalim Shah & Jorge Rivera, 2008. "Export processing zones and corporate environmental performance in emerging economies: The case of the oil, gas, and chemical sectors of Trinidad and Tobago," Policy Sciences, Springer;Society of Policy Sciences, vol. 41(2), pages 181-182, June.
    13. Elisa Alt & Emilio Díez-de-Castro & Francisco Lloréns-Montes, 2015. "Linking Employee Stakeholders to Environmental Performance: The Role of Proactive Environmental Strategies and Shared Vision," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 167-181, April.
    14. Esther Blanco, 2011. "A social-ecological approach to voluntary environmental initiatives: the case of nature-based tourism," Policy Sciences, Springer;Society of Policy Sciences, vol. 44(1), pages 35-52, March.
    15. repec:kap:jbuset:v:145:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10551-015-2854-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Blanco, Ester & Lozano, Javier & Rey-Maquieira, Javier, 2009. "A dynamic approach to voluntary environmental contributions in tourism," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 104-114, November.
    17. Simone de Colle & Adrian Henriques & Saras Sarasvathy, 2014. "The Paradox of Corporate Social Responsibility Standards," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 125(2), pages 177-191, December.
    18. Dayna Simpson & Damien Power & Robert Klassen, 2012. "When One Size Does Not Fit All: A Problem of Fit Rather than Failure for Voluntary Management Standards," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 110(1), pages 85-95, September.

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